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River Man

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Everything posted by River Man

  1. Well I don't like cars very much, partiuclarly as the father of two girls I see them as the greatest single risk to them... by far... but I take your point in that even if you design them out people still bring them with them. Mind you, I don't drive and have always lived near good public transport connections so perhaps I am an out of touch urbanite. On the other hand:
  2. This is interesting: http://www.sustainablesuburbia.co.uk/webpages/Presentation1.html
  3. The problem isn't the density per se, its housebuilders' inability to produce decent design. This was the inspiration for hte density reuqirement - to try to recreate garden cities or victorian suburbs (the ones that most people seem to love).... "To build below 30 dwellings per ha you have to plan pretty inefficiently. The garden cities comfortably achieve densities of 30-40dph; Victorian terraces between 60-80dph; and the Abercrombie Plan around 62dph. Importantly, they all accommodate generous family housing." "
  4. It's not just about density, though, is it? The Victorians and Georgians built houses at far higher densities than current new builds - but managed them with large rooms, high ceilings, etc. http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/02/28/34/2283471_6659f585.jpg The garden cities and suburbs were built at about 30 dwellings per hecaare - this road is about this density, believe it or not: http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/01/30/49/1304914_23eca9b8.jpg The Dutch have got the right idea about recreating this sort of thing... http://www.ademgezond.nl/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/vathorst_118223h.jpg (not everyone's cup of tea, but can you imagine a British housebuilder doing this?)
  5. One thing that is quite noticeable, I think, is how much thinner and healthier looking young people were - despite the presumably appalling diet?
  6. khards, that's not necessarily to do with density. I am lucky enough to live in a large Victorian terrace (with a garden front and back). I would estimate that the area is built at aorund 40 dwellings per hectare. Yet the rooms are larger than almost all new build houses; the ceilings in particular are much higher; and it has a feeling of space that I have never seen in a new build property.
  7. khards, it is quite possible to have front and back gardens at 30 dwellings per hectare. Garden cities like Bournville or Letchworth contain spacious houses with gardens are built at around this level. Victorian suburbs which count as among the most popular in the country and have good garden sizes are built at above this. It is about the efficient use of space. Housebuilders build very inefficiently and end up providing the worst of all worlds. I'm all in favour of houses with gardens but having very low density development is a real issue, especially as we have an older population more inclined to lvie alone. It makes it harder to provide schools that children can walk to, as the number of homes within a walkable distance is lower. The same goes for other neighbourhood faciltiies, from shops to pubs and hospitals. The net result is that people have to drive everywhere and we end up with an even bigger transport problem that at the moment. And the further away faciltiies are the more people feel they have to have several cars to ferry their families around. The Dutch have it right with their new spacious houses (and plenty of them) built at medium density with lots of local neighbourhood facilties and excellent public transport.
  8. Yes, of course, but it is surely a factor. Compare London - largely the result of Victorian laissez-faire - with Paris, carefully planned by the French state. The problem with the BRitish planning system is that it is very difficult to get planning consent for "housing" but there is not enough control over what can be built there. On the Continent, from what I have seen, it is far easier to get permission to build something built but far, far harder to build something that is not in line with local minimum standards / masterplans etc.
  9. While it is difficult to precise quantify positive and negative externalities, with land it is clear that they are so large that they completely distort the market. For example, the vlaue of land on the outskirts of London has such postivie extenalities conveyed by the current and former inhabitants of Greater London that virtually none of it can be attributed to the owner. LIkewise, if the Crown Estate decided to sell Hyde Park to a developer who built houses on it, the negative externalities for the millions of tourists and Londoners who use it every year would be enormous even compared to the considerable capital gain for the developer!
  10. Do you have evidence for whether a "free market" in land would provide such standards? Or do you only demand evidence from those who oppose your extreme form of economic orthodoxy? Mumbai or Bangkok, for example, have never had much in the way of a planning system and it's hardly got a better quality of life than centrally planned cities such as Paris or Munich. In fact, when you go to a city such as Paris, Barcelona or Prague do you walk around muttering yourself about how much better those places would have been if they'd only let the free market in land rip? However, land ownership in the UK has never been seen as an absolute right on a par with say, car ownership. The existence of rights of way is testament to that. In fact, in many ways, the UK model is closer to the Swedish "allemansraat" (all men's right) in which every Swede is allowed to camp, walk or gather berries etc. on private land as long as they do not come within a certain distance of a house or damage property or crops. I think both us and them recognise (to different extents) that land is quite different to other forms of property. It's position and supply is fixed, for a start, and it hasn't been "made" by anyone - it was there before humans evolved. It's also absolutely vital to economic and social activity. Furthermore, current patterns of landownership are reflections of historic government intervention in the land market. Estates were given to successful military commanders; peasants were removed from the land as a result of the enclosure acts. The entire "land market" is a government creation.
  11. The first problem with this discussion is you're assuming planning is just about housing. It's also about schools, offices, factories, roads, etc. One of its main functions is to ensure, foro example, that no-one builds a toxic waste processing facility next to a school, or that when a builder puts up 100 houses there is a primary school provided. Hayek's point was that if there was no planning system the legal system would be completely overwhelmed by claims for and against people who had done things to their land which had detrimentally affected their neighbours. I'd go further than Hayek and suggest that there needs to be some sort of plan for where roads go, schools go etc, and housing to accompany it. The British planning system is totally dysfunctional, of course, but countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands, with high economic growth and the best quality of life on the planet, have planning systems that, while being more pro-growth, are actually more prescriptive than in the UK - saying what you can build where more specifically. The state is also more ready to intervene in the land market and CPO land owners where housing needs to be built.
  12. ‘The immemorial custom of every modern State, the mature conclusions of many of the greatest thinkers, have placed the tenure, transfer and obligations of land in a wholly different category from other classes of property. The mere obvious physical distinction between land, which is a vital necessity of every human being and other property, is in itself sufficient to justify a clear differentiation in its treatment, the view taken by the State of the conditions which govern the tenure of land from that which should regulate forms of traffic in other forms of property.’ – Winston Churchill, Speech to the House of Commons on Land and Poverty, 4 May 1909
  13. The planning system was a reaction against the squalour of the Victorian city, with factories next to overcrowded houses and no provision of open space etc. Even Hayek argued that you need some form of town planning - because of all the externalities involved in land development, such as pollution or the removal of public goods eg. open space - that the market cant' deal with. Because ultimatley markets, like governments, fail.
  14. They were not "unplanned". The Georgian squares and terraces you are talking about were carefully designed and planned by the likes of the Grosvenor Estate, the Cadogan Estate, etc. and other great landowners, using architects and master builders such as Thomas Cubitt. Even Victorian terraces were planned - there were by laws stipulating where and when buildings could be constructed from mid-Victorian times on. It is also a myth that planning began in 1946. Planning permissions became essential from the 1920s onwards, it's just that councils could not say 'no' as they had to recompense landowners for lost value. However, from the late Victorian period, cities like Birmingham and Liverpool had a lot of planning controls over their area.
  15. I'm sure St Leonards has its plus points, but can you realistically commute to London each day?
  16. I've just come back to this thread after a few months. I'm slightly amazed by the response below. If someone who didn't know North London read this thread they'd think Crouch End was some distant suburb, and that Holloway was where Clerkenwell is - rather than the two places being about 20 minutes' walk apart. They're both inner suburbs, only CE is a bit nicer. Are you sure you're not confusing Crouch End for High Barnet or Edgware? As to not knowing Central London - I've lived in Islington, Camden Town, West Kensington, Brixton and Bow in my 15 odd years in the place.
  17. What do you make of this beauty? Worth £585,000? In Stroud Green? (Albeit the nice bit) http://www.primelocation.com/uk-property-for-sale/details/id/KFBT999000971
  18. How come almost everywhere else in Europe... (1) people don't think flats are automatically small.. hey, you can have big flats with big rooms and lots of them... (2) people don't think flats are automatically for poor people or those who can't afford a house (3) families live happily in city centres (4) often people aspire to live as close to the city centre as possible, with more distant suburbs for those who can't afford the centre The only big-ish British city that's anything like this is Edinburgh.
  19. Unlike most of the country, the closer you are in to the centre, the nicest it is. Chiswick and Ealing apart. Outer West London is grim grim grim.
  20. I'm sure it's a pleasant journey (and I like Dulwich), but most advocates of train commutes I know always say "it takes x minutes to get to Victoria/Waterloo" without mentioning that they then have to spend another 20 or 30 minutes getting to the tube station near their actual office. It's like people who move out of town and say "but it's only a 50 minute train ride and it took me 40 minutes to get home from the office when I lived in London" - failing to take into account (A) Getting to the station ( Getting home from the station and © the fact that if they miss their train they have to wait 30 minutes for the next one. I'll stick with the Victoria line thanks. It may be overcrowded but there's a train every 90 seconds and it gets me direct to Oxford Circus or Green Park in literally 14-16 minutes. I walk out into a central London street, not a train station.
  21. Redditch is a dump. I once met someone from there on holiday who told me that Birmingham (where I'm from) was an absolute hellhole and they wouldn't go there in a million years. I grew up in Edgbaston and then Harborne. I wondered to myself whether anyone in Redditch could even imagine places as pleasant as this.
  22. Ledbury and Bromyard are the best places in Herefordshire. Both very pretty, relaxed, very different from your experience of grotty old Hereford. Both high up on the edges of the Malverns and therefore very unlikely to flood! IF you want rural, try the Golden Valley or further north around Kington. My favourite area is actually the so-called 'woolhope dome' between Ross and Ledbury - an area of quite high, hilly ground with the Wye running through. Stunning scenery, some good pubs, and loads of orchards and hop fields. On the east side, nearer the midlands, there are more villages. The further you go towards Wales the emptier it gets. The most attractive place in Shropshire isn't Shrewsbury or Ludlow, it's Bridgnorth. I bet the low town floods though. Not sure about the high town.
  23. I've been to NY loads of times, and have not noticed that it is any more lively than London in the early hours. Perhaps you could educate us all as to what activities go on in the early hours to make a place a genuine 24-hour city. IN any case, both places are fairly conservative when it comes to nightlife compared to Berlin or Barcelona.
  24. Australia, particularly Perth and parts of Sydney, are rammed full of chavvy types. I'd recommend Melbourne if you go there - you'll be least embarrassed by the antics of your compatriots. One thing about London - the outer towns and M25 orbital has the highest density of chavs in the country, but in more central parts you NEVER see any. I live in Muswell Hill and work in Marylebone and I have not seen a chav for years.
  25. You obviously haven't cycled through Soho at 1am or hung out in Bar Italia at 4am after clubbing - before ending up in a bar that opens at 5am.
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